“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ, himself being the chief corner stone.” Ephesians 2:19-20 (KJV)
“And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...” Ephesians 4:11-15 (KJV)
Today's apostle is somewhat different, in some respects, than the early apostle. The twelve apostles had a function which no other member in the body of Christ will ever have; they were with the Lord during His whole public ministry on earth. They had a part in the founding of His church in the world, and several of them wrote books, which are included in our New Testament. The gift of ministry called “apostle” was to be a gift through the whole period of building the church, or body, as obviously the church has not “come in the unity of the faith...unto a perfect man.” An apostle is one who is sent forth by the Lord to lead, direct, carry, and protect the gospel in new places. His work involves laying the foundation for the body. He is also building up and overseeing the body.
Jesus states in Matthew 16:18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (referring to an apostle and all apostles), and upon this rock (referring to Jesus) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Peter; in the Greek "Petros", and in Aramaic "Kephas"; in John 1:42, a "fragment of a rock".)
Matthew 16:19 reads: “And I will give unto thee the keys (authority and power to do the works of Christ), of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
I believe true apostles, according to the Scriptures, minister with some level of authority and power, operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They have a responsibility to protect the church from heresy and train the ekklesia in the commandments of God. (Note: Some churches and denominations call their leaders non-biblical names like General Superintendent, but they still do the ministry of an apostle.)
In Matthew 18:15-20, the Lord gives instructions to the local congregation/church/ekklesia/synagogue concerning authority and responsibility for the training and discipline of believers.
Matthew 16:18-19 and 18:15-20 are both necessary to constitute an ekklesia. The government of God maintains and protects the ekklesia, ensuring sound doctrine, and guides the church for its health, effectiveness and survival.
The Apostle Paul was a tent maker by profession, but he ministered to the ekklesia, the church that came together to learn the ways and laws of God. Not every apostle is a tent maker or CEO or President of a corporation or business, but every apostle does minister to the church congregation where they find themselves. Apostles minister to the ekklesia. Bill Gates is a multi-billionaire businessman, but he is no apostle.
In 2 Corinthians chapters 10-12, Paul defends his apostleship and warns the ekklesia against false apostles, sharing how to recognize them. He describes the authority and responsibility of true apostles and how they are willing to serve to extend the kingdom of God and suffer and die for Yeshua if the need dictates.
The purpose of God, through His ekklesia/church, according to Psalm 72:19 is to reveal His glory over all the earth. Matthew 5:13 tells us to be “salt”; Mark 16:15-20 gives us the Great Commission with power of attorney to preach and teach all nations with signs following; Luke 19:13 tells us to occupy, and Romans 13 even warns governments that there is a “higher power” or authority, which is God, and government officials need to enforce the morality and justice of God.
Occupy, teach, and salt are all words instructing Christians to be heavily involved in shaping and influencing society. All of the apostles and prophets in both Old and New Testaments confronted evil men, governments and cultures. They confronted sin, whether it was in the people of God or the country in which they lived. Some examples are Jonah, Joseph, Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Queen Esther, Elijah, Samuel, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Peter, Jesus, and Paul; and the list goes on.
Apostles are set in place to lead the other gifts of ministry (prophet, teacher, pastor and evangelist) in protecting the gospel of Yeshua (Hebrew name for our Messiah) against heresy, warning believers and the nations of sin. They should not be weak, politically correct cowards who judge nothing, using the excuse of being wise when they only want to survive at the expense of being unfaithful to our Lord and His gospel.
Let all apostles challenge the gifts of ministry to equip the saints to influence and change their cities, states and nations for Jesus. The blessings and prosperity--or the disintegration--of a country depend on the laws of God being followed in that nation because of the influence of believers being led by apostles.
Dr. Jonathan Hansen
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